John Byrom, a minor eighteenth century poet, wrote some verse about a couple of likable scoundrels discussing what to do about their lack of transport. Stealing a horse would clearly be wrong; filching one would be a little better. Could they pilfer one? No, that would be less than honest. Yet, by the end of the poem, they decide that they need not think too badly of themselves if they nim a horse. Scientists practice the same sort of semantic sleight-of-hand. Inventing data would clearly be wrong; suppression of inconvenient results would be less than honest. Yet they need not think too badly of themselves if they gloss over the study's methodological shortcomings, optimize the statistical analysis, cite published work selectively, or perhaps make someone a gift of authorship.

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